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I apologise, and I want the 'asples' to be progressive

Fowke_John2JOHN FOWKE

HAVING ALREADY APOLOGISED for the aspersions I recently cast upon Joe Wasia, and I applaud the sentiments expressed in his recent, eponymous opinion piece.

Joe wrote:

Successive governments have neglected this vast majority, their focus diverted to the main centres of the country. And that was really unfair for the people…. As a member of the educated elite in my society, I know I would not tolerate tribal fights or other social disorder in my society nor support perpetrators in any way.

Indeed, Joe. Oh yes. I have been writing off and on for several years urging people like you to form a progressive linkage or union across tribal and provincial boundaries and the nation.

Much of what I’ve written has been published in the various daily and weekly papers in PNG including in Wantok, and in Australia as well as PNG-related blogs when these arose not so long ago.

Just recently my hopes that I may have a small audience, or better, friends, in a combined enterprise, have risen.

I am in touch with a small group of your peers, professionals with progressive ideas and idealism driving them in the process of incorporating a formal "think-tank"-type organisation. This to organise and propound at grassroots level the sort of ideas leading to changes in society, government efficiency and services which you yourself wish to see established.

I am hoping to persuade them to give consideration to my plan for the grafting of the LLGs into the national political system, replacing the parties as the foundation of representation, being accessible to and in the control of the ordinary voter. This "grafting" to be effected by using the existing system and making the plan interesting for MPs. 

The idea presents no constitutional problems and in providing for a real, sustainable return to asples-generated control over national government policies, it is in line with Melanesian cultural aspirations.

The parties and thus the MPS are not seated in the villages and settlements of PNG- they stand upon selected, Moresby-based stepping-stones to opportunity for smart, often unprincipled and personally greedy men; men who keep a very opaque "ceiling" in place above the asples/settlement masses downstairs and their MPs' very exclusive, enjoyable "mens club" upstairs.

There will be resistance to any move to empower the LLGs . These have been kept on starvation diets and very short dog-chains for the past three decades and more. However there will be a very distinct advantage for all MPs who agree to participate, and as time passes it will be increasingly obvious to MPs that this is the best way for them as well as the people at large.

The LLGs will become, in effect, the quality-controllers for all government services, institutions and development within their electorates, working as all-encompassing "Lokol Komiti" in regular face-to-face contact with their own MP, and with him, the Governor of the province concerned.

I have painted this picture a number of times and will not re-draw it here. Suffice to say that anyone interested is very welcome to email me for a draft for comment and criticism.

Two points I will however add here: firstly, with regard to Joe's piece and the desired eradication of tribal conflict and intra-community violence of all sorts, it should be remembered that this condition of society prevailed in a great many parts of PNG at the coming of the first exploratory patrols.

In the Highlands being the last part of PNG to be brought under the rule of the new imported laws, fighting and practices such as murder and mutilation in punishment for offences such as sorcery and adultery generally took about ten years to put down in a particular area once a patrol post was established.

Whilst some of the methods used verged upon the brutal and inhumane, as recalled now and then right here in Attitude, the practices thus addressed and eradicated where just as brutal and were sanctioned by the "eye for an eye "system of ongoing vendetta which had ruled for many centuries.

In the Hagen-Wahgi area, for instance, a woman suspected of adultery or one who ran back to her family from an abusive husband was captured and had her Achilles tendons cut. Thus ensuring that she would be confined to a life of imprisonment within the crawl-perimeter thus established.

Even though firearms are widely present now, and in use in fighting, it is by no means impossible, under existing law, for a determined and well-organised government agency to repeat the achievement of the early system of armed and disciplined law-enforcing patrols and on-the-spot court hearings.

Energy, organisation and determination plus political support are needed. Provided that the will to act exists or is summoned, tribal fights and acts of vengeance and payback can be made to cease. From there , regular touring by patrols comprised of District Managers, Police, Magistrates and paramedical personnel with supplies will maintain peace, progress, improving health, and increasing prosperity.

Councillors must insist upon three-monthly inspections of schools, health-facilities and village courts within their purview. Schools, in particular are now endowed with direct access to voted funds and acrrued school-fee payments kept in accounts generally administered and operated by headmasters.

Not often spoken of, this is another semi-hidden sea of corruption. I have PNGian friends who are employed behind the counter at a popular betting-shop in one of PNG's cities. They tell me that there are large numbers of regulars every day, but the biggest regular punters among these are bush-school teachers and policemen.

Government Stores no longer exists as the agency for supply of consumables to outstations. The Head Teachers themselves go to town and buy for cash. The trips often take up to a week.

The other point I'd like to make is that it will be a positive step if the nation was to consider instituting a version of the Public Service Institute / PNG Administrative College designed by INA, NRI and the PNG/Pacific Policy Institute plus professional institutes to provide a short, very intensive residential re-orientation course for all public servants at a senior level.

Residence would incorporate medical and fitness examinations, treatment where necessary, and appropriate aerobic exercise regime before classes each morning. Psychological and aptitude assessment and grading, ethics and corporate bonding/working relationship sessions, profession-specific refresher courses, and a crash course in "One Hundred Years of Human History and PNG's Emergence as a Nation" would be incorporated.

As well the working/professional aspect would be addressed by the provision of a Management and Administration course such as those offered in Melbourne and participated in by many PNGian executives in the past.

The whole to be energetic, intensive and a wake-up call with implications for transferring what is learned to each individual's workplace. Additionally- and undoubtedly controversially- employment by contract where renewal is based upon performance must be introduced at all senior public service levels.

I believe such action and resulting reforms are absolutely essential as a step in the emergence of PNG as a recognisably fair, equitable and humane society.

My well-worn heart, suffering though it does from the effect of "pinisim katen syndrome" and medicinal ingestion of pure, natural sugar-cane juice in its rum form, is warming and heading to a state of sleepy old man happiness because of these positive vibes from your generation of PNG professionals.

The sort of people who always give me hope even when the horse of Waigani where galloping at their wildest- think Bill Skate era for one-are many but sadly, also departed in many cases.

For instance the late Sir Anthony Siaguru, Henry Kila, also now departed whom I got to know because I had worked with his father the late Kila Kone, as well as Mahuru Rarua (known to his small group of intimates as "leader") and again the old Co-op linkage, Sir Tore Lokoloko. There are many others.

We need a modern, ideals-driven Bully Beef Club, but without the "bully." How about "Sosial na Ekonomik Abus Klap"? Okay,okay. Lapun sili baga ya.

Comments

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Maureen Wari

For this article, I have some questions and comments.

Question:

1. Will this progressive linkage or union be one for the whole of PNG or one for each LLG in each province?

2. If participants in this union are not in the vicinity of the LLG, how is regular communication between them and community or asples going to be maintained if there is no phone line, vsat or radio link?

Comment:

1. The suggestion of voted funds and accrued school-fee payments to be generally administered and operated by headmasters has not gone to my 'yes vote.'

When it comes to direct contact with money, it is quite a challenge for the Melanesian, even the lotu ones. I do not have yet in mind who really should be responsible here but when I do read your draft, I believe I will have some idea.

2. Although I plan to read your draft and comment, I must point out the refresher mentioned in paragraphs 21 and 22, for the sake of the readers.

I strongly agree with re-orientation course for all public servants at a senior level including medical and fitness exams and appropriate aerobic exercise regime each morning.

Our lifestyle has changed a lot from the 70s and therefore workplace habits too must have corrective measures for the lifestyle acquired.

3. The above article has 25 paragraphs (correct me sapos mi karangi). Plenty of reading to fully grasp your idea. I was thinking a flow diagram might assist?

On the whole, I hear you. Your plan sounds like a workable idea. I would like to read the draft for a start so will be contacting you soon.

Tenk yu stret for all the informative articles to date.

Don Tapio

I have read the articles John and I for one can see a lot of sense and agree with what this system envisions.

Ideally it would seem this would have been the best vehicle for development post independence (with PNG's largely illiterate population).

The system targets the 'root' cause of the many misdemeanors affecting our ruling cliques and dilutes the political ignorance persisting among the voting masses.

The 'inconclusive' national population census records (2010-2011) revealed the national literacy rate at 80%.

The current government's resurrection of the universal free education policy is the authorities's response to this 'prison wall'.

The party system of westminster democracy our founding pillars have adopted on 'colonial bidding' works well where you have a vibrant educated middle class who are willing to work for and harangue the elite 2% economic powers for better pay and privileges etc.

Unless we can educate 80% of the population in the next five years, vision 2050 will become the golden fleece of dreams.

What John is suggesting is a system that can work, is practicable, holds the MP more responsible to his voters and can actually work in translating people's hope and aspirations at the grass roots level into ownership of impact projects and development in their communities.

I recommend everyone to have a read and work out what the article begs of.

A more responsible system, the empowerment of the LLGs is an effective system of government which has been hijacked and sidelined by the white elephant-the provincial governments.

As it is, the local MPS are little emperors who use the DSIP funds at their behest and we have come to accept that as the norm. Complacency born of ignorance doesnt get us anywhere.

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